MIDDLESEX COUNTY - It's called porch pirating, and police report it's on the rise this time of year. Thieves are following delivery drivers and stealing packages before the homeowner even knows they are there.

To combat these thefts, Fed Ex, UPS, and police departments across New Jersey are reminding residents to watch where they leave gifts.

The tips to protect your packages are fairly simple. When ordering online, consider selecting a "ship to store" option. This means picking up packages at a local FedEx or UPS location.

Consumers might consider having purchases sent to work locations or to someone that is sure to be home, such as a friend or neighbor.

Some shippers will allow an off-hour delivery date or time; ensuring a customer will be there when a package arrives.

FedEx Spokesperson Paul Bajaj says that the company has just implemented a new system as well. "We've rolled out FedEx Delivery Manager where you select the date, time and location of your shipment and receive customized alerts when you are receiving something."

The best way to protect yourself is to report any suspicious activity in your neighborhood, especially around the holiday season.